How to succeed at work, according to Angela Ahrendts, who was one of Apple’s highest-paid executives

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REUTERS/Noah Berger

  • Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s former retail chief, discussed the importance of leaning into your talents at work on LinkedIn’s “Hello Monday” podcast.
  • It’s a lesson that Ahrendts says she passes on to her children.
  • Understanding your gifts and focusing on them can help you bring your most valuable contributions to the table, Ahrendts said.
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When former Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts started working for the technology giant in 2014, she learned an important lesson – particularly within her first 100 days. “If it teaches you anything, it teaches you that they wanted you for a reason,” she said when speaking with LinkedIn’s Jessi Hempel on the company’s “Hello Monday” podcast in May. “So get in your lane, bring your gifts to the table.”

That lesson of understanding where your strengths lie and applying that to your job, even if it’s a position in a new field you haven’t worked in before, is one that Ahrendts said she passes on her to children.

Ahrendts has a history of working in the fashion industry, having been the CEO of Burberry before joining Apple, and she held executive positions at Liz Claiborne and Donna Karan International before that. Moving to Apple represented a step into a new industry for Ahrendts. “I tell my kids, it’s kind of like water-skiing,” she said on the podcast. “You don’t want to be over here, you want to be in that real smooth place, and try and get yourself there. And then life just takes off.”

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Ahrendts was Apple’s retail chief overseeing the company’s strategic direction for its physical and online retail stores. She was hired from Burberry in 2013, the year before the Apple Watch was announced, and left in April for “new personal and professional pursuits,” according to Apple. Ahrendts recently joined Airbnb’s board of directors in May.

During her tenure, she was among Apple’s highest-paid executives. Her total compensation for 2018 was $26.5 million, according to an Apple proxy filing from January 2019, which was higher than CEO Tim Cook’s total compensation of $15.7 million in 2018.

In 2017, her total compensation was $24.2 million, which was also higher than Cook’s compensation of $12.8 million and slightly higher that of other executives such as Luca Maestri, Apple’s chief financial officers, and Dan Riccio, the company’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, according to a 2018 proxy statement.

Ahrendts also addressed the subject of feeling insecure in one’s role during the podcast. While that feeling doesn’t always go away, Ahrendts said that getting a better grasp on your strong points can give you the necessary assurance to succeed.

“You get stronger and more confident in who you are and what your gifts to this world are,” she said. “And then you keep yourself in a narrower lane, knowing that if I stay in this lane, I will make the contribution that I’m supposed to make while I’m on this planet.”

Are you a current or former Apple Store employee? If you work or have worked at an Apple Store, we want to hear from you. Contact this reporter at leadicicco@businessinsider.com